Are we all lunatics?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

People in the olden days used to think a full Moon in the sky could affect a person’s behavior. As a matter of fact, the word “lunatic” (which we use today to describe crazy people) was derived from the Latin word “lunacus” which roughly translates to “moonsick.” According to Swiss researchers from the University of Basel, that bright orb in the sky may not make us crazy at night, but it does make us restless!

When volunteers for the study were told to sleep during a full Moon phase, researchers found that the patients took 5 minutes longer to fall asleep and woke up 20 minutes earlier than usual! That doesn’t sound like much time, but when you think about it, 25 minutes can mean the difference between a groggy morning and a great day!

As if this wasn’t enough proof, the volunteers also lost up to 30% of deep sleep. This is the most important stage in refreshing our minds, bodies, and memories for the next day.

Is it the extra moonlight that makes us so restless? Nope. The scientists ruled out this option when they kept the volunteers in a pitch black room. Dr. Neil Stanley, who has been involved in sleep research for almost 30 years, attributes the effects to “festive” roots.

“[Our ancestors] evolved on this planet [in] a time [without] clocks or calendars… the Moon was a time of celebration you’d gone through another month … [so]…[they] actually had a party every full Moon,” he says, “over a million years, [this] led to an innate behavior that we… have in our bodies.”

In other words, the parties our ancestors had in the past during the full Moon have evolved into our bodies, leaving us attuned to the cycles of the Moon. Wow, who would have thought parties could have such an effect millions of years later!